JEvgeny Prigozhin revealed the open secret on Monday morning that he was behind the mercenary group “Wagner”. In addition, the businessman known as “Putin’s cook”, who became rich with catering orders for the Russian armed forces, schools and other public institutions, provided a founding legend: In 2014 he decided in the face of many scammers and incompetents who were active in the field to set up a “group of patriots” himself to “protect Russians” in Ukraine.
He cleaned old weapons himself and found specialists, it said in a statement published by Prigozhin’s Concord company. Prigozhin credited his troops with “liberating” areas in the Donbass, hinted at operations in Syria, other Arab countries and for “disadvantaged Africans and Latin Americans,” and praised his “brave guys” for being “one of the pillars of our homeland.”
Russian media reports trace “Wagner” to a group called the “Slavic Corps,” which has been active in Syria since 2013. It has also been reported that the Russian General Staff suggested that Prigozhin set up a “private military company” back in the late 2000s. Such are illegal in Russia. “Wagner,” which traditionally attracted veterans from the military and security forces, is seen as a shadow army in the service of the militarized Kremlin’s foreign policy on the one hand, and Prigozhin’s economic instrument on the other, which is also associated with the raw materials business in Syria, for example.
Prigozhin has been making a name for himself lately
For years, Prigozhin denied the connection to “Wagner” and took media that reported otherwise to court. After being put on the EU sanctions list, Prigozhin also sued the European Union Court last February, calling his mercenary force non-existent, but failed.
In the past few weeks, it has been noticeable that Prigozhin, who also serves the Kremlin through a network of hate media, has been the talk of the town. In mid-September, a video surfaced on Telegram channels showing a “monstrously similar” (according to his company Concord at the time) Prigozhin man recruiting prisoners in a penal colony to fight in Ukraine; There have been corresponding reports since the summer, thousands of prisoners are said to have moved to the Ukraine with “Wagner”. Prigozhin commented on the video, saying that anyone who doesn’t want mercenaries and prisoners to go into battle should send their own children there. Last Friday, two days after the mobilization announced by Putin, Prigozhin announced that his own son was fighting for “Wagner”.
With his media offensive, Prigozhin may want to prove himself to Putin as a loyal, meritorious actor, especially in view of the military setbacks in Ukraine. However, Vladimir Ossechkin, the (exiled in France) founder of the legal protection portal “Gulagu.net”, sees him as a “clown” and as a “camouflage” for the illegal transfer of prisoners to the war zone, which was carried out, among other things, with aircraft belonging to the Ministry of Defense and under the control of the FSB secret service successes.